I Can't Reply to Email Messages in Outlook Web Access

By Melly Parker

The OWA portal enables you to check and reply to email without the Outlook program.
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When you can't reply to email messages from the Outlook Web Access portal, it's most likely because you don't have the correct plugins enabled on your browser. Outlook Web Access requires ActiveX controls to run its "Compose" function and you won't be able to reply to email in your browser unless you adjust your settings. Conflicting add-ons and user account permissions also could be at fault.


ActiveX controls are small, downloadable programs that manage a function on a website. When you load a website that uses ActiveX controls, it asks your permission to install the software on your computer. When you first log on to the Outlook Web Access portal, accept the ActiveX control so that you can use all the functions of the site.

Adjusting ActiveX Controls

If the ActiveX setting didn't load, an "X" icon will appear in the "Compose" area of the reply screen. You can adjust ActiveX settings from the "Internet Options" menu on Internet Explorer. Click "Custom Level" in the "Security" tab to view the ActiveX options on the browser. After making sure that all ActiveX options are enabled so the necessary plugins for the Outlook Web Access portal can be downloaded, close the browser. Sign back in to the Outlook Web Access portal and accept any ActiveX prompts that pop up.


Add-ons installed on your browser can conflict with certain websites and may prevent you from replying to email messages. Under the "Tools" menu, select "Manage add-ons" to disable all the add-ons you use and then close your browser. Launch it again, navigate to the Outlook Web Access portal and sign in to your account. If you're able to reply to messages, enable the add-ons again one at a time and reload the account after each one is enabled. When enabling one prevents you from composing a reply, that add-on conflicts with Outlook Web Access and you can remove it.


If your copy of Outlook is on an Exchange Server, there are special permissions that the administrator can enable or disable to manage your account. If you have ActiveX controls enabled and all your plugins are compatible with the Outlook Web Access portal, speak with your administrator. He may need to adjust the permissions associated with your user account so that you can reply to messages from a browser.